A speech therapist claims mask mandates are the main culprit causing a significant increase in new baby and toddler patients suffering from speech and cognitive impediments.
“We’ve seen a 364 percent patient increase in patient referrals of babies and toddlers from pediatricians and parents,” Jaclyn Theek, a clinic director and speech-language pathologist at the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach, Florida told ABC affiliate WPBF.
Theek said that before the beginning of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures became normalized in society, just 5 percent of her clinic’s patients were babies or toddlers; now, that ratio stands at 20 percent.
Kids start talking at an age as young as eight months, scientists say, who believe being able to see and interact visually with their parents or teachers while speaking is key to this process.
“There’s no research out there yet saying that this could be causing speech and language delays,” she said. “But, most definitely, I’m sure it’s a factor.”
“It’s very important kids do see your face to learn, so they’re watching your mouth,” Theek said, who also expressed concerns that her facility is “seeing a lot of things that look like autism.”
“They’re not making any word attempts and not communicating at all with their family,” Theek added, referring to the extremely young patients who regularly come to her clinic with speech delays.
‘Fact-checkers’ push back
A Reuters “fact-check” team sought to debunk the premise of the articles quoting the therapist’s statements. It stated that Theek’s findings, as published in a report by National Pulse that simply quoted the WPBF article, “are missing context” while pointing out those numbers only related to Theek’s own clinic.
Meanwhile, Reuters relied on quotes from medical professionals to assert there is no evidence that mandatory masking is causing speech-learning deficiencies in children.
“At this time, there is no evidence that use of facemasks by adults when talking to children prevents or delays speech and language development in typically developing young children,” Reuters quoted an email by Dr. Diane Paul, Ph.D., Clinical Issues in Speech-Language Pathology Director at ASHA.
As Summit News previously highlighted, Forbes deleted an article written by an elementary school educator and Ph.D. student at Columbia University, Zak Ringelstein, in which he states that coercing minor students to wear face masks would induce psychological trauma.
“Masks and social distancing induce trauma and trauma at a young age is developmentally dangerous, especially for children who are experiencing trauma in other parts of their lives,” he said.
“Children in masks are also likely to miss out on critical language development, another fundamental area of growth in early years where children from low-income backgrounds already have disproportionate disadvantages,” the author wrote.
Ringelstein’s commentary followed closely on an article by Michael Curzon, a reporter with the Daily Sceptic, relying on an article from The Guardian to note that two of the overarching causes for traumatized children are face masks and being physically and emotionally isolated from other kids.
Dramatic IQ plunge under five
The Guardian’s article referred to a study led by author Sean Deoni, associate professor of pediatrics at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Deoni and his team found that babies born during the lockdown have remarkably lower verbal, motor, and overall cognitive achievement as opposed to children born before.
They found that the general IQ score on standardized tests for children aged between three months and three years, which for those born in the decade preceding the pandemic had been hovering around 100, now plummeted to 78 for children of the same cohort born during the pandemic.
“It’s not subtle by any stretch,” said Deoni of the remarkable drop in test results since lockdowns began.
“You don’t typically see things like that, outside of major cognitive disorders,” Deoni said.
Although the study did mention the possible adversities of mask wearing for children and adults, it concluded that the main reason for the cognitive malfunctioning was attributable to the deficiency of stimulus and lack of interaction at home.